Democrats Support Troops, Screw Over Bloggers

Matt Stoler has given up on Congressional Democrats, deciding that, “It’s pretty obvious at this point that the Democratic leadership isn’t serious about ending the war in Iraq. They won’t defund the war, and keep repeating the meme that cutting off funding for the war means cutting off funding for the troops.” As a result, “they are screwing over us, who voted them into office to end the war, and we’re enabling them with cheerleading.”

He thinks it may be time for the Netroots to start working to defeat these people in the primaries for their betrayal. While I would be happy to have the Netroots defeat electable Democrats in the primaries, replacing them with Ned Lamont types, I find it rather odd that Stoler had such high hopes. After all, almost none of the 2006 winners who shifted the balance of power in Congress–by definition replacing Republicans in those seats–did so on a platform of quick withdrawal from Iraq.

Further, even if there were a unanimous consensus among Congressional Democrats to call of the war right now, the institutional arrangement of our government would preclude it. A minority of forty senators could filibuster and deny the Democrats a victory. If they could peel off enough Republicans to get past that (ten, with Senator Tim Johnson being incapacitated) President Bush could veto it, requiring two-thirds votes in both Houses to override.

Let’s just say we’re not there yet. And, certainly, that fact doesn’t constitute “screwing over” liberal bloggers.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Congress, Iraq War, Politics 101, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ugh says:

    Well, if Congress doesn’t pass funding there’s no funding, presidential veto or no, (and query whether, if Congress “un-declared war”, a Presidential veto has any meaning).

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    As I noted back in october of last year, while it may be true that a new broom sweeps clean the Democratic leadership are no new broom. They’re just a different old broom.

    I think the Left Blogosphere has misinterpreted the results of the last election, doesn’t understand what makes politicians (any party) tick, and was bound for disappointment from the get-go.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Dave: Agreed all around.

    Ugh: Congress does things by passing bills and having the President sign them or, alternatively, overriding his vetoes.

  4. Ugh says:

    I was just saying that Congress can defund the by simply doing nothing, the President can’t appropriate funds on his own.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Congress can defund the by simply doing nothing

    How so? They’re going to not pass a defense budget?

  6. UGH,

    It would depend on how the “non-funding” worked. If it was a “law” that said after a certain date, no defense department funds could be used in Iraq, then Bush could veto it.

    If it was part of the general appropriations bill for the defense budget, Bush could also veto that. Which could defund the entire pentagon. Before you get to excited, Bush could also start vetoing anything and everything else until the pentagon is funded.

    The senate filibuster rules would work in a similar way. This is called a train wreck. It really comes down to a giant game of political chicken. Think about how ‘strong’ the democrats were on the non-binding resolution and you can start to see that in a game of chicken, there is a real good chance that the democrats (or at least enough of them) would blink first.

    You’re question on a ‘reverse AUMF’ is an interesting one. I think Bush could veto that, though it would certainly raise the political stakes. I suspect that like the resolution, it would never make it past the senate.

    Dave,
    I think in one light the bloggers haven’t misinterpreted the election. They clearly saw 2004 and 2006 as resolutions on Iraq. The fact the 2004 resolution didn’t come out the way they wanted didn’t matter (e.g. McEwan is certain that the Ohio vote was fraudulently obtained, so I’m sure she can in good conscious ignore the inconvenient truth). 2005 came out in their favor, so the bloggers on the left can ignore the inconvenient truth that the war in Iraq wasn’t the only issue people considered in calculating their vote.

    But hey can still “feel” screwed over because what they see as clearly the right course of action isn’t being taken. It is one thing for the democrats in the minority to feed them red meat rhetoric, but it is another thing to only get the sizzle and not the meat when the democrats are in the majority.

    James,
    I agree that it would be a dream come true for the left to make “surrender now” the litmus test for democrats to win their primaries. Let a thousand Ned Lamont’s bloom. But reality is that like the republican primaries, as much as I might want to whomp some republicans upside the head with the two by four of common sense, the emotional satisfaction would likely not last past the general election. As bad as the GOP can be sometimes, they are still better than the democrats. And I’m sure that upon calmer reflection, those on the left would make a similar claim about the democrats vs republicans.

    But it is fun to dream.

  7. Hmmm…, if a few hundred Ned Lamont’s popped up and won Democratic primaries before the next general election, what do you think Joe Lieberman would call his new party as all the Democratic incumbents jumped ship? You don’t think they would all just roll over and accept retirement do you? Maybe this is the best way for those who advocate something other than a two-party system to bring it about.

  8. Ugh says:

    How so? They’re going to not pass a defense budget?

    One can only dream…OK, I’m not that crazy, but a smaller U.S. miliatary would be a good idea, IMHO.

  9. Also, Instapundit posted an item indicating that the new Democratic strategy is to slow bleed our forces down to the point that completing the liberation of Iraq becomes untenable. To borrow a line from Blackadder II regarding how the Democrats apparently support the troops: having reviewed the situation carefully, they can confidently recommend a course of leeches.

  10. Bithead says:

    Stoller, as usual thinks the world centers around him. He exaggerates, as is his wont, the amount of pressure that he and the rest of the Nutroots were able to bring to bear in the last election. Thing is, a lot of others are working under the same misconception… ex YAJ:

    But hey can still “feel” screwed over because what they see as clearly the right course of action isn’t being taken. It is one thing for the democrats in the minority to feed them red meat rhetoric, but it is another thing to only get the sizzle and not the meat when the democrats are in the majority.

    The point that’s being missed, that Democrat officeholders, understand, apparently more so than the Nutroots, is that not everyone claiming “Democrat’ as their party banner, is in agreement with the nutroots on the war, or anything else for that matter. More to the point, there are still enough people who do not subscribe to the nutroots way of non-thinking, as to make winning election purely by way of the shrillness of the nutroots impossible.

    Indeed, if the Edwards business of the last couple weeks proves anything, it’s that people like Stoller are more a problem for the Democrats, than they are a solution.

    In the end, that’s what has Stoller and the DU(h) crowd so annoyed.

  11. John Burgess says:

    Stikes me that a lot of the leftist bloggers do an entirely credible job of screwing themselves, both collectively and individually. Do they really need the help of Congress?

  12. Tim C says:

    I’ve just figured what all this talk about “Will Bush start a war with Iran?” is all about. It gives the Dems a war they can safely oppose.

  13. Tlaloc says:

    How so? They’re going to not pass a defense budget?

    Exactly.

    They send up a defense budget that definds Iraq. Bush vetos it. Now *BUSH* is the one who has cut funding to the troops not the dems. They offered a bill, he refused. And he has no power to get money without them.

    It is win-win for the dems (not to mention the troops who get to come home). Of course that means it makes entirely too much sense for the dems to do.

    “The bush can veto it” argument is a non-starter since Bush needs funds for the DoD and he can;t get them himself.

  14. Tlaloc says:

    The point that’s being missed, that Democrat officeholders, understand, apparently more so than the Nutroots, is that not everyone claiming “Democrat’ as their party banner, is in agreement with the nutroots on the war, or anything else for that matter. More to the point, there are still enough people who do not subscribe to the nutroots way of non-thinking, as to make winning election purely by way of the shrillness of the nutroots impossible.

    The problem with your argument is that it is false. Not only do the majority of democrats want the troops out of iraq the majority of ALL AMERICANS want the troops out:

    Nearly two-thirds of Americans – 63 percent – want US troops home from Iraq by the end of 2008, according to a new poll published on Tuesday by the newspaper USA Today.

    One month after US President George Bush announced a plan to expand the number of US soldiers in Iraq by 21 500, 57 percent of those polled said they wanted a cap on troop levels.

    However, only 40 percent supported proposals in Congress to block funding for the war to force Bush to bring home US forces, while 58 percent opposed such a move.

    link

    People want the troops home, they want the surge defeated, but they don’t want funds cut. So the dems should send up a defense budget that precludes a surge and let bush veto. He cut the funds then, not them.

  15. JohnG says:

    I’m quite sure that very few want the surge ‘defeated’. Maybe they didn’t want the surge to happen, but now that it is happening I’m sure they want it to succeed.

    Also note that your citation says that 58% do not want Congress to cut funding.

    And no one in their right mind will think Bush vetoes a Defense Budget because HE wants to cut funding to troops. Congress will not be able to hide the reason behind any such veto of a defense budget.

  16. Tlaloc says:

    I’m quite sure that very few want the surge ‘defeated’. Maybe they didn’t want the surge to happen, but now that it is happening I’m sure they want it to succeed.

    Sorry I was unclear. They want the idea of the surge defeated. And they still do. It isn’t happening yet to any significant degree.

    Also note that your citation says that 58% do not want Congress to cut funding.

    I know, I made sure to include that to give the whole picture. That’s why the dems should not try to pass a bill that defunds the war. They should just pass a budget that, while popular, bush will veto, causing him to defund his own war.

    And no one in their right mind will think Bush vetoes a Defense Budget because HE wants to cut funding to troops. Congress will not be able to hide the reason behind any such veto of a defense budget.

    Whether he *wants* to cut funding doesn’t matter. He *will* be the one doing so. What is he going to say? “I had to veto that defense funding bill”? For what reason? “Oh cause the dems wouldn’t let me give the sunnis another 20,000 troops to shoot at”?

    Yeah that’ll go over well. If Bush vetos funding then yes he is the one cutting off the funding. This is a pretty simple logical proposition: would the troops have funding if he hadn’t vetoed? Yes. Do they have funding if he does? No.

  17. JohnG says:

    I’m pretty sure that the American public will be sophisticated enough to understand what is actually happening rather than believing this “Bush cut funding by vetoing the defense spending bill” argument. Bush will say “The spending proposed by Congress does not sufficently provide for our troops in the field,” carefully including all the magical buzz words as he vetoes the bill.

  18. Carl Gordon says:

    So, let me try to digest all of this. Somebody wants to kill radical Muslims. The ever unpopular Army will take felons but not gays. A lot of slack-jawed mouth breathers want to hang reporters. So, how’s everybody managing it? Managing it? More like keeping the saliva-dripping ever nad-snapping jaws of the Great White Pinhead at bay. It’s clear to me now that I have a possible job future as a matador. The admin appears to be delusional and swinging their hands wildly with an exacto knife (remember: don’t cut towards yourself).

    How do I acquire and Who do I thank for a mantra to the abyss? I got to believe that sometimes George and maybe his fister buddy Cheney, sit in the dark, looking up from the blackest pit of a soulless prison of their own devise, with their only resolve being to find the exit in the corner of the round room. But the “news” always slaps me back like the wet gym towel snap to the ass. I guess one has to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity and hopelessness, so much so that what is needed at times like these is to metaphorically light a fart to chase away the dark spooks of despair! I didn’t actually do that last night but I had the opportunity for much needed decompression.

    What’s the worst that could happen? (Don’t ask!) I’m too old to get drafted. I probably don’t qualify anymore to work at the 7-Up bottling company. They don’t have debtor’s prison. I managed to lose that crazy bitch that chased after my car. And as far as I know, there’s no warrants for my arrest. The shoulder/headache conundrum is bugging the shit out of me, but that’s what drugs are for. If they fire me I know I can at least get a job shoveling sand! I take solace in various blogger’s words of encouragement and caring; as the Indians would say: “There is both fire and iron in your words”. At least I’m not a guitar player for Celine Dion.

    Befuddled by life’s ill-timed, truant, and what I hope is malingering karma, listening to the honeyed, Old Grand Dad soaked strains of Charlie Rich tossing around the idea of who the next bobo will be, as I wipe my weekend-induced, furrowed brow, contemplating yon weekend’s bitter yet persnickety insistence that I not rest easy nor enjoy chemical related abandon. Events are happening at a frightening rate, threatening to spin out of control, just like me. I find myself strangely impelled to hug pillows, chant mantras, and probe for breeches in what has been, up to now, my impenetrable frame of reference that the Diggers gave to me free of charge back in those rather idyllic, stupid, days of yore.

    Listen all you hustlers! Don’t give up, send digital transmissions…crypto-brainiacs will download and dump….”What a dump!”…hook pinkies over the hardlines….put a crowbar in that glimmer of insanity you call a mind and pry open that tuna can skull of yours and smile.

    The first problem: Like all the misery penciled in and scheduled for Job by demons and gods too punch-drunk on their own pulchritude, I too ponder life’s lousy timing and incredibly bad taste in humor, waiting for the break that ultimately will only transpire, with my luck, at the slacker end of the rope and once again I’ll have to trod up Alfred’s 13 steps (a movie I’ve never been able to sit through) and take my place at my desk, hands folded, singing “Good Morning to You” to some numbskull who represents my first and best argument for forced sterilization, awaiting the inevitable swinging open of the trap door when I get back from lunch. So I sit here, broken hearted, paid my dime and only………..

    Second problem (I never seem to have a scarcity of problems): Forces irrational, short-tempered, and zealous in their labors to fling culpability for wars and other damages unto any nearby victim, like yesterday’s pesky booger, are attempting to unseat my customarily erratic and inconsistent mental state. No amount of reality can thwart their Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney paranoid fantasies, so surreptitious strategies and furtive senseless gestures are in order immediately, purposely obfuscating messages in order to confuse small and petty minds. Persevere.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    Bush will say “The spending proposed by Congress does not sufficently provide for our troops in the field,” carefully including all the magical buzz words as he vetoes the bill.

    Good luck with that. I’m sure a president with approval ratings in the low 30s to high 20s who is trying to escalate a massive unpopular and unnecessary war in the year before a presidential election…

    …nevermind.

    If you want to believe the public will accept Bush’s excuse of why he “had” to veto funding for the troops- be my guest.

  20. Bithead says:

    Ah, yes, Tlaloc … an obvious case of wishful thinking. First indication: using Useless Toady for anything that does not directly involve guarding the bottom of a cage from animal or bird excrement…

    And Carl… what are you smoking, and where can I get ME some of it?

  21. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Tlaloc, the President of the United States does not have to make excuses for anything. Hearken back to the Civil War days. If Lincoln had listened to those who wanted to end the war, both the public and in Congress, history as we know it would be quite different. The left and the anti-war forces have lied so much that you want them to pull a democratic defunding just like you cowards did to South Viet Nam. This time, you will not be able to blame anyone but America haters and the communist bias liberal lying press for the consequences of not winning that war. You say we already lost it. Please explain how extremely light casualties, and no loss of territory constitutes a defeat. You liars call day night and night day. If you do it long enough, the gullible believe you. What you fail to remember is it was the policy of the Clinton admin. to remove Saddam from power. Bush just carried that out.

  22. gil says:

    Answer to Zelesdorf

    The Democrats unlike the Republicans are not stupid. They will not cut funds for this war, that will give them ownership of the war, and we don’t want it.

    The war is all yours…. In fact I am for more funds, and if you people the “Cut and Bleed” crowd continue with your so called policy so much the better!!

    In 08 you will not have a party left…. What is it now, you know the support for your cause among the normal Americans?…. 20% or so?

    If that does not tell your side where you stand you are dumber than I tought… And apparently you people are, so be my guest destroy yourselves over an idiot president.

    After this next failed “surge” PLEASE support another one, and another one… OH man this would be fun if it was not so tragic, for THE REAL AMERICANS YOUR SIDE CONTINUES TO SEND TO DIE BECAUSE …. YOU SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!!

    No pal, your kind supports the Iraqi troops, your side supports al Sadar the nut leader of the Shiite Militias, your side supports al Sistani the crazy Iranian Mullah … Those are the ones getting an R&R while our soldiers “supported” by you “patriots” continue to be sent back to die tour after tour

    Have you ever heard of a plan that works? When it does, you can tell immediately because you start to see results. You side some how went back to kinder garden and forgot that a plan that “works” is not supposed to take four years of incremental chaos. Are you people that dumb, or are you like pretending now?